Jaunts Through Chicago
I don't consider myself a really active person, but I do feel like the Chicago area has an awful lot of places that just beg you to come outside and enjoy them. From Grant Park all the way to the lakefill on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, you will find plenty of opportunities for pleasant walking and biking, so much so that you won't bother getting that membership to the gym. Why bike stationary in front of a wall of TVs when you can cruise down the Outer Drive with the lake and its breeze on one side, and high-rise apartments and offices on the other? Why walk or jog in circles when you can journey through diverse and ever-changing neighborhoods, and stop and gaze in countless store windows?
Sometimes, people who ride the Chicago El (public transit) wonder how long it would take to cover the same distance on foot. (Trust me, it makes the El look really good.) One day, I just got bored and decided to walk north until I could walk no farther. Whatever the motivation is, it is a great educational experience, and everyone who is able should take the time to walk a few miles down their favorite street. I would like to take this opportunity to chronicle the long walks I have made in and out of Chicago since coming to school here.
Wherever you see a icon, click on it to see a picture from that area taken from along the journey! Stay tuned for updates as I edit and upload more pictures.
6/12/2007 (coming soon)
P R E F A C E
On this day, at the start of my summer vacation, I woke up and had little better to do than go on an excursion and see how far I could walk going northward on Clark St. I heard that Clark went from deep inside Chicago into the heart of Evanston (as it turns out, a lot of other long streets do, such as Western, California, Crawford/Pulaski, etc.), so after heading to the Chase Building on Clark and Madison in a cab, I began walking northward with absolutely no idea of what to expect. However, I bore my camera and expected to take documentation of any interesting sights. Being architecturally-minded as I am (I do go by Mr. City, after all!), many of my early camera shots consist of sides of buildings I wished to use in 3D renderings of sityscapes, to give them an incredibly realistic feel. You can, in fact, find some of these building textures already edited to be flat and tileable at Amazing Textures under the username mrcity. The later pictures represent more facades, interesting street corners or sights, or me getting to various milestones along the way.
T H E R O U T E
I headed along Clark St. going north starting from Madison, and stayed on course until I reached Lincoln Park. At Armitage, I elected to take Lincoln Park West Drive, and although the park is very pretty and it is fun to watch people playing and carousing there happily, I ended up being somewhat disappointed when Lincoln Park West ended at Fullerton and I had to walk a couple blocks west on Fullerton to regain Clark St. I continued along Clark for a great while, until Ridge at about 5940 North, just south of Elmdale/Peterson. There I stopped at a White Castle restaurant for the first time in my life; my opinion of it is that it is worth going back there again, and I have taken many friends there on some pretty epic adventures (such as our car catching on fire in their parking lot late one night). After White Castle, I actually decided to backtrack, mostly because I did not wish to walk any farther along Clark alone, and I was amused by the intersection of two streets called Broadway and Hollywood, just a few blocks east. So, I took Ridge southeast to Ardmore to head east (waiting to cross Ridge at one of the longest red lights ever), and passed by a gigantic building called Senn High School. Sadly, Ardmore temporarily ended at Magnolia, so I took Magnolia one block south to Victoria and used that to go one block east to Broadway. This small part I just described actually made me quite uneasy, since there was not a soul on the streets walking with me. However, once I got back to Broadway, there was plenty of traffic, and I headed south a bit to Hollywood, just to take a picture of myself at that intersection. After this, I did an about face and headed north on Broadway (Sheridan, once you pass Loyola University) until I reached Howard St. Upon reaching Howard, I stopped to get a snack at the Marathon gas station at the corner, and not knowing how much farther to get to the Howard Red Line El, waited for a cab to come and take me back downtown to get ready for dinner at Fulton's on the River.
T H E P A C E
I set off from the Madison side of the Chase Building at 10:35 A.M., and was able to get 20 blocks north every hour. At 11:35, I was at Armitage; 12:35, at Irving Park, and finally at the White Castle at 1:35. I strolled at a comfortable pace and stopped to take a lot of pictures. The time at White Castle, and the time required to head east and backtrack south a bit caused the last 16 blocks north to take about one and a half hours. It also didn't help that my ankles began to hurt quite immensely with every step after leaving Hollywood and Broadway, so I was sitting on every bench in sight for the last mile or so of the journey.
C O N C L U S I O N
It seems as though every 10 blocks (1000 in street address numbers) along Clark Street has its own distinct flavor to it. I walked through many diverse neighborhoods along my path, and never really felt threatened by any part of the journey. I never said anything to anyone I passed by, which was kind of sad, except for one guy who asked me for directions early on as I was crossing the Chicago River. Lincoln Park streets have a different feel to them than downtown, because by then, you get into more residential properties and "fun areas" than there are in downtown. The streets also feel a lot less serious, since people are more relaxed and not every street has a really tall building next to it. On Clark Street throughout the 2000s North blocks, the buildings (even the low-rise) still seemed shiny and fancy, and the people walking around seemed to be in very good shape and standing. When I got to about Wellington, 3000 North, I perceived I was in Wrigleyville; the buildings didn't seem quite as nice, but obviously at Clark and Addison (3600 N) is Wrigley Field! The 4000s along Clark was dominated early on by a very large cemetery and more short buildings, but then had a whole lot of ongoing construction of new apartments once I approached the Andersonville neighborhood. The 5000s were very stylish; Andersonville is known for some of its ornate architecture, and there were many people walking around enjoying lunch at sidewalk cafes. The street seemed bright and sunny, and there is a very large flower shop (Gesthemane) as you approach White Castle. The in-between residential areas are very quiet, as I imagine people work during the day and don't hang around the house too much. However, Broadway had quite a bit of industry along the street until I reached Loyola; after Loyola, you are walking through the Rogers Park neighborhood, and are constantly surrounded by 3 or 4-story brownstone walk-up apartment buildings that probably date back to as late as the 1930s or 1940s.
P R E F A C E
This time, I was accompanied by Julia, a friend of mine who is an avid hiker and rock climber. The journey was two miles longer than before, and she kept me going at a fast pace amidst a Texas-sized blister on my toe, cramping legs, and tingling feet for the last two miles. We started from Evanston and desired to make it to the 0/0 mark in Chicago. I am really glad she came along to help push me toward making that goal. However, we did manage to keep each other quite distracted and entertained along the way, so unfortunately this journey was a lot less fruitful from the pictures and documentation standpoint.
T H E R O U T E
We took a slightly different route than I did the first time. We started in Evanston heading south on Chicago Avenue, which turns into Clark Street upon crossing Howard. We took this sketchiest part of Clark all the way down to Thorndale to head east, and I again passed Senn High School. We resumed heading south on Broadway and stopped to take pictures on my favorite-named intersection, Broadway and Hollywood, just three blocks west of the end of Lake Shore Drive. We followed Broadway until it merges with Clarendon, and then elected to take Clarendon due south, instead of taking Broadway any longer after it once again split. This turns into Halsted St. south of Addison. Approaching Belmont, Julia was interested in taking a diversion to Bittersweet Pastries on Belmont near Racine; after this, we headed southward on Clark Street, then due south once it intersected with LaSalle Street. I finally stopped to sit down at LaSalle and Chicago Avenue; Julia wanted to take a break at the Rock & Roll McDonalds between Ohio & Ontario on LaSalle, so we took Ontario to the north entrance, and exited from the east side onto Clark once again. We headed southward on Clark until I recognized a fountain square at Washington Street my stock broker's office overlooks (from the lofty third floor). I stopped in his path, called him, and began frantically waving. He spotted me, and said Hey briefly before I proceeded on Washington to Dearborn. One block south on Dearborn and one block west on Madison took us to our final destination, State & Madison! We stood there just long enough to take pictures, then took the Red Line El back to where we started. We covered exactly the same distance, and saw exactly what we saw in reverse, but in only about 45 minutes.
T H E P A C E
Our pace varied greatly, and it was difficult for me to remember when we made it to where. However, what I can recall is that we set off from Chicago Avenue & Davis in Evanston at about 10:10 A.M. on Wednesday, and arrived at Lawrence & Broadway at 11:55. We waited for the Ethiopian restaurant to open for about five minutes, then took an hour to eat. We arrived at State & Madison by 4:15 PM.
C O N C L U S I O N
All in all, this gave both of us a much greater appreciation for those who run full marathons. Given how we both felt after walking 13 miles for five hours through the city, it must take an incredible amount of strength and stamina to walk, much less run, 26 miles!